President Obama picks KU to win title

March, 16, 2011
03/16/11
9:31
AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In 2010, President Barack Obama went chalk when he picked pre-tournament favorite Kansas to win the national championship.

But the Jayhawks bowed out in the second round in a stunning loss to Northern Iowa.

Nevertheless, the president had faith in KU then and even more so now, selecting the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks to win the national championship for the second season in a row.

Two seasons ago, two months after taking office, Obama selected favorite and eventual champ North Carolina to win the title.

Obama picked all four No. 1 seeds in this year's bracket, with Kansas knocking off Purdue, Pitt taking down Florida, Ohio State defeating North Carolina and Duke beating Connecticut in the four Elite Eight matchups. Obama picked an Ohio State-Kansas final.

The president was aware of how well Connecticut's Kemba Walker had played during the Big East tournament while explaining his pick of the Huskies over San Diego State in the West regional semifinal.

"I saw Kemba Walker -- the guy plays like a pro already," Obama said. "He's got presence on the court. It wasn't just his scoring -- he got big rebounds, big steals, made his free throws at the end of tough games. So I've got to go with Connecticut, as good as San Diego State is."

Obama also explained some of his picks in the Elite Eight.

"And as much as I love North Carolina, as much as I love Roy Williams, I think Ohio State has got the talent this year to keep on going," Obama said. "I'm going to pick Duke, mainly because I think Connecticut, other than Kemba Walker, is a really young team. And so Duke just has the experience, I think, that's going to be able to compensate for what I'm sure will be a terrific tournament for Walker."

The president cited KU's depth as one of the reasons he picked the Jayhawks to win it all.

"I'm picking Kansas, just because I think they're deeper," Obama said. "I think that Kansas has more firepower. [Ohio State] has a great top six, but after their first six they got problems. So any kind of foul trouble, if [Jared] Sullinger gets in trouble trying to guard the Morris brothers [Markieff and Marcus], they're going to be in a tough spot."

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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